How a Harvard class project changed barbecue

The co-founder and CTO of Desora, Yinka Ogunbiyi, knows first hand the challenges of “slow” grilling in the dead of winter. Together with CEO Michel Maalouly, Ogunbiyi spent hours every weekend in the cold trying to perfect a grill design as part of an engineering class at Harvard in 2015: The Big Green Egg.

“We were amateurs and smoked a brisket every week in the cold Boston snow,” Ogunbiyi said.

The task, however, had another fold. Professor Kevin “Kit” Parker had made sure that the class had a real customer, and it was a legitimate one: the popular kitchen retailer Williams-Sonoma. This meant that the final designs could potentially become an actual product if they could offer something better than the barbecues available at that time could offer.

“The worst winter in Boston ever happened quickly showed the shortcomings and shortcomings of existing products,” Maalouly said. “We used the industry-leading smokers at the time and found that the cooking experience was extremely poor.” The couple needed a way to maximize thermal coverage, speed up the process, and improve taste when they wanted to beat the egg.

In addition to the whole cooking process, many barbecues – even in 2019 – will have no way to remotely monitor your meat, unless you are looking for a more expensive model. Companies like Traeger, Rec-Tec, Green Mountain Grills and others allow you to keep track of things on your phone, but these are wood pellet grills, and they are not exactly cheap. In addition, they are electric, so adding WiFi connectivity is not a big step if you already have a power source that regulates the temperature. Ceramic grills, like the Big Green Egg, use charcoal or pieces of wood to cook and season food. Therefore, remote control and monitoring is a bit more difficult, unless you have an additional device.

For Maalouly and Ogunbiyi it was a must to watch their long incense sessions from the inside. To make sure they got accurate data without relying on Boston’s white-out, they created a mobile app to monitor classroom temperatures. The aim of the project, however, was to improve the overall process by making the cooking vessel itself as efficient as possible. This certainly included the remote control, but changes to the design of the grill itself would achieve this goal.